For-profit

Investor Voice

Location:

Seattle, WA

Type:

For profit

Formation:

2009

ESG Activism

Investor Voice is a “shareholder engagement” company that works on behalf of investors to advocate for left-leaning environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies at a corporate level. Investor Voice develops and presents shareholder proposals, negotiates with businesses, and can be hired to lobby Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on behalf of their clients. [1]

Investor Voice is a so-called “social purpose corporation” (SPC),[2] a supposed hybrid between a for-profit company and a non-profit organization. Like a not-for-profit, and SPC can choose and promote a social agenda, but an SPC can also focus its efforts on maximizing profits and distributing profits to shareholders. [3]

On behalf of its clients, Investor Voice has submitted proposals and led resolution challenges at major companies like Albertsons, DuPont, Intel, McDonalds, Nike, and Starbucks. Investor Voice pushes for left-of-center ESG changes, claiming that businesses can maximize shareholder value by adopting the agenda backed by Investor Voice. [4]

The founder and chief executive of Investor Voice is Bruce T. Herbert. Herbert is also the founder and chief executive of the socially responsible investment (SRI) firm Newground Social Investment. [5]

Background

Investor Voice works on behalf of investors to advocate for left-leaning environmental, social, and governance (ESG) changes on a corporate level. As a “shareholder engagement” company, Investor Voice develops and presents shareholder proposals, negotiates with corporations, and can be hired to lobby Congress and the SEC on behalf of their clients. Investor Voice is not an investment management firm, and clients may maintain the money managers of their choice. [6]

Issues

In 2009, Investor Voice, along with Newground Social Investment, submitted a shareholder proposal to Nike, pushing them to withdraw from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They cited the Chamber’s role in climate change legislation as a reason for withdrawal, despite commending Nike’s efforts to develop its own environmental business practices. [7] While Nike resigned from the board of the Chamber of Commerce, the company retained its membership. [8]

Investor Voice, again along with Newground Social Investment, submitted another proposal to Nike in 2018, demanding a semi-annual report of their political spending, claiming that disclosure of this information would be in the best interest of both Nike and its shareholders. [9]

In 2012, on behalf of SRI firm Harrington Investments, Investor Voice submitted a shareholder proposal to Starbucks, pushing the company to create a board committee for environmental practices. Starbucks had already been pressured by previous shareholder proposals to make changes to how it sources coffee, and Investor Voice’s Bruce Herbert even said that Starbucks is “a lot more open and accountable and transparent.” [10]

People

Bruce T. Herbert is the founder and chief executive of both Investor Voice and Newground Social Investment. He formerly served on the board of governors of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) and on the National Corporate Accountability Committee of the Sierra Club, one of the country’s largest environmentalist advocacy groups. [11]

References

  1. “Overview.” Investor Choice. Accessed October 30, 2019. https://investorvoice.net/services/overview. ^
  2. “Frequently Asked Questions. Investor Voice. Accessed October 30, 2019. https://investorvoice.net/faqs/frequently-asked-questions. ^
  3. “Social Purpose Corporation.” 501 Commons. Accessed November 3, 2019. https://www.501commons.org/resources/tools-and-best-practices/starting-a-nonprofit/social-purpose-corporation. ^
  4. “A Third Voice.” Investor Voice. Accessed October 30, 2019. https://investorvoice.net/who-we-are/a-third-force. ^
  5. “Team.” Investor Voice. Accessed October 30, 2019. https://investorvoice.net/who-we-are/team. ^
  6. “Overview.” Investor Choice. Accessed October 30, 2019. https://investorvoice.net/services/overview. ^
  7. “U.S. Chamber of Commerce Misalignment with Nike.” Investor Voice. September 28, 2009. Accessed November 3, 2019. https://investorvoice.net/news/us-chamber-of-commerce-and-misalignment-with-nike. ^
  8. “Apple, Nike, and the U.S. Chamber.” Wall Street Journal. October 14, 2009. Accessed November 3, 2019. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704107204574469521188829810. ^
  9. “Shareholder Proposal to Nike on Disclosure of Political Spending.” Investor Voice. September 18, 2018. Accessed November 3, 2019. https://investorvoice.net/news/shareholder-proposal-to-nike-on-disclosure-of-political-spending. ^
  10. Allison, Melissa. “Starbucks’ Socially Responsible Image Cuts Both Ways.” The Seattle Times. March 20, 2012. Accessed November 3, 2019. http://old.seattletimes.com/html/businesstechnology/2017800974_starbucks21.html. ^
  11. “Team.” Investor Voice. Accessed October 30, 2019. https://investorvoice.net/who-we-are/team. ^
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Investor Voice

111 Queen Anne Ave N, Suite 500
Seattle, WA